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BURBANK, CA-California’s statewide construction activity slipped for the second consecutive month in July, totaling $6.02 billion for the month, down 4.5% from the June total, according to the Construction Industry Research Board.

The nonprofit CIRB says that in July all construction sectors were down from the previous month, marking the first month this year that construction totals have declined in every sector during the month.

On a year-to-year basis, however, the CIRB sees a glimmer of hope for the commercial construction sector, which has been the state’s weakest building segment during the current economic downturn. “Private nonresidential construction now appears to be improving slightly each month” on a year-to-year basis, the CIRB says. Seasonally adjusted, the July commercial construction total equaled an annual rate of $14.35 billion, up 4.1% from July 2002.

Furthermore, CIRB’s director Ben Bartolotto says a bright spot in the commercial sector is alterations and additions, which posted its first year-to-date increase. It totaled $3.258 billion in July, up 0.2% over the same period last year.

Alterations and additions is a major part of commercial building, accounting for more than 40% of all nonresidential building activity, says Bartolotto. He says the increase, though slight, “may signal a turnaround in the state’s total nonresidential building in the near future.”

Among the state’s regions in the first seven months of 2003, total nonresidential building is up in Southern California 2.6%; Sacramento Valley 14.9%; San Joaquin Valley 5.3%; and Central Coast 2.9%. The nine-county Bay Region, which accounted for the bulk of the statewide decline in nonresidential construction in 2002 and 2001, is down 22.8% or $528.2 million for the first seven months of 2002, offsetting the increases in other regions.

The largest decline in July was in public works construction, which includes highway and heavy construction along with governmental buildings. The public works total for July was $1.49 billion, down $241.3 million, or 13.4% from June.

Bartolotto says the decline in public works construction is due primarily to a slowdown in heavy construction, more specifically in the anticipated reductions in road and bridge construction due, in part, to the uncertainties surrounding the $38 billion deficit state budget.

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